Howard Dean, New York Times Writer Criticize Free Beacon as ‘Fake News’ Over Ossoff Stories

Howard Dean / Getty

Former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean and New York Times deputy Washington editor Jonathan Weisman called the Washington Free Beacon "fake news" on Monday in response to a pair of stories involving coverage of Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff.

Ossoff lives outside of Georgia's sixth congressional district, which he is seeking to represent. The Georgia Democrat previously said he lives "one and a half miles" away from the district, although on Monday he revised that to "two miles." One campaign volunteer was filmed in May telling canvassers to say to curious voters that Ossoff lived "three blocks" outside of the district.

Free Beacon reporter Brent Scher fact-checked that claim by walking from Ossoff's Atlanta home in the fifth district near Emory University to the nearest landmark of the sixth district. Scher walked more than three miles to get there.

Weisman took exception and called the story "#fakenews farce." For backup, he pointed to his past employment at the weekly Neighbor Newspapers that cover the Atlanta area.

Weisman did not provide another reason for why he felt the story was dishonest.

On Monday evening, Scher attracted considerable media attention when he reported that the Ossoff campaign had escorted him out of a campaign event, barring him from covering it. While most outlets came to the Free Beacon‘s defense and criticized Ossoff, Dean said the Free Beacon "engages in fake news and propaganda" and is "not legit."

Other media outlets joined the HuffPost‘s Sam Stein in ripping Ossoff's team for the move, including the New Republic, BuzzFeed and the Atlantic. Even Weisman's colleague at the New York Times defended the Free Beacon.

Republican Karen Handel, Ossoff's opponent in Tuesday's special election, was also criticized for lack of transparency after ThinkProgress reporter Kira Lerner said she was blocked from Handel's final campaign event on Monday.